Fiorentina haven’t always treated the man wearing the armband very well. They pushed Dario Dainelli out the door in 2010, thinking he was nearing the end of his career (he’d spend nearly another decade in Serie A). After the Riccardo Montolivo captaincy fizzled, Alessandro Gamberini was unceremoniously shipped off to Napoli. Next it was Manuel Pasqual’s turn, then Gonzalo Rodríguez. Davide Astori is obviously a different case. But the the club’s record with their captains isn’t great.
That’s why the news from the Corriere dello Sport that Germán Pezzella is ready to renew his contract is very welcome indeed. After flirtations with Napoli, AC Milan, and Valencia, many assumed the Argentina international was ready for a new adventure after 3 years with the Viola. With a contract that runs out in 2022, this would be the club’s last opportunity to cash in on him, so we braced ourselves for the inevitable bad news. Now, though, club and player are ready to sign a 2-year extension that’ll keep him in Florence until 2024.
This is, without a doubt, an extremely good move for the Viola. Pezzella remains one of the most underrated defenders in Italy despite his fantastic performances. His aerial presence and excellent reading of the game make him a perfect fit in the middle of Giuseppe Iachini’s back three. His 2830 minutes in the league were 34th most, highlighting his durability, and his 3 goals demonstrate his threat at set pieces. He also boasted the second-highest successful pressure rate and the fifth-most clearances in the league.
More than the numbers, though, it’s his comforting presence (and I’m not just talking about his listening eyes) that makes a difference. Pezze sets the tone for this defense and excels at organizing his colleagues at the back; take a look at, say, Martín Cáceres’ performances with and without him to get an idea of his impact.
It also helps that Germán is the sort of player who probably won’t fall off a cliff due to age. While you can’t project Dainelli-esque longevity for anyone, central defenders tend to remain effective later in their careers than other players, often because their pace isn’t as important as their judgement. Pezze’s expertise as a penalty box defender means he should remain a strong option even if he experiences a slight physical decline in the next couple of years.
Too, there’s the tie to Astori. Pezze has worn the DA13 armband with pride since the man died, showing dignity and respect at all times. His go-to celebration for a goal or at the end of a match is to hold it up in honor of Davide. Keeping Pezzella feels like keeping another link to the number thirteen. For me, at least, that sort of emotional impact means some
Seeing Pezzella sign on the dotted line could also help convince Federico Chiesa and Nikola Milenković that Florence remains the best place to ply their trade; at worst, it’ll prove to them and to prospective signings that Rocco Commisso and company will reward performance with increased job security and compensation. That may not mean anything in the log run but it can’t hurt either.
More immediately, though, Pezzella should finally be fit enough to make his season debut this week against Sampdoria. Seeing him out there should provide a sense of security that Fiorentina fans have been missing these first two matches. If this new contract goes through, it’ll guarantee that we’ll see plenty more of the captain over the next few years. And that is good news indeed.